The hills of Tsodilo are undoubtedly the central attraction of Botswana, national parks aside. They are located west of the Okavango Delta, 53 kilometers from the town of Shakawe, a mysterious place shrouded in myth and legend with a spiritual significance for the local San people.
On the rocks of Tsodilo one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world, Tsodilo has been called the “Louvre of the Desert. More than 4500 drawings are preserved in an area of only 10 km2 of the Kalahari Desert. The archaeological record of the area gives a chronological account of human activity and changes in the environment of at least 100,000 years.
2. Moremi Wildlife Reserve
Moremi Wildlife Reserve, is located in the middle of the Okavango River Delta in one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the world. It consists of a network of waterways surrounding the two main islands, Chief Island in the west and Tonga Island in the east. The wildlife of the reserve is represented by leopards, buffalo, antelope, elephants, lions, servals, and jackals. The wetlands of the Moremi Reserve are home to many species of birds, especially marabou, ibis, herons and flamingos.
This reserve is also notable because it was created by an African tribe on its territory and is named after the chief of that tribe.
Official website: www.botswanatourism.co.bw/destination/moremi-game-reserve
3 The Botswana National Museum
The Botswana National Museum is multi-disciplinary and includes the National Art Gallery, National Library and Octagon Gallery as well as the newly created Botanical Gardens. If you want to learn all about Botswana’s history and art, make sure you visit the National Museum.
Official website: www.botswana-museum.gov.bw
4. Gaborone Game Reserve
Gaborone Game Reserve is the smallest game reserve in Africa at only 600 hectares, but despite its size it is the third busiest reserve in the country, all thanks to its proximity to the capital of Botswana and the local population likes to spend their weekends and holidays there.
The park is home to rhino, ostriches, zebras, various antelopes and like most sanctuaries in Botswana, is very popular with birdwatchers.
5. Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Covering 52,000 sq km one of the largest game reserves in the world, Central Kalahari is larger than some European countries like Denmark or Switzerland and larger than Lesotho and Swaziland combined! Central Kalahari, is home to sand dunes, riverbeds, forests and vast open plains that are home to many fascinating species of wildlife, as well as settlements of the local Basarwa and San tribes. The park is home to a large number of wildlife such as leopards, giraffes, cheetahs, lions, rhinos, warthogs, hippos and others.
Official website: www.botswanatourism.co.bw/destination/central-kalahari-game-reserve
6. Chobe National Park
Botswana’s second largest national park, Chobe, is located in the far north of the country and its 12,000 sq. km. area is divided into four distinct regions. These include the Chobe River with its floodplain and teak forest, the Savute Swamps in the west. the Linyanti Swamp in the northwest, and the desert interior in between. Chobe is especially well known for its huge elephant population, over 70,000, and it is not uncommon to see herds of over a hundred. An added advantage in Chobe is that the main attraction in neighboring Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, is just over the northern border with Botswana, only an hour away.
Official website: www.chobenationalpark.co.za
7. Makgadikgadi Solonchaks
The Makgadikgadi Solonchaks are located in the northeast of Botswana and are one of the largest solonchaks on earth, covering 16,000 sq km of the Kalahari Basin. During the rainy season, the salt marshes become a source of fresh water and grass for migrating wildlife, especially the herds of gnu and zebra antelope that move through the Kalahari Desert.
Botswana: how to get there, sights, cuisine, tips for tourists and more
Botswana. Photo by fcmarriott.
Botswana – a country for those who want to see untouched nature and learn how Africa looked like before the advent of civilization. Such a trip suits those who want a break from computers, skyscrapers, and the flow of people.
The capital of Botswana, as well as the largest city, is Gaborone. Many tourists visit Botswana to visit its national parks. Animals, thanks to its leisurely pace of life, have no sense of danger and are almost not afraid of people.
Currently, to visit Botswana can only travelers who are ready to spend on vacation very substantial amount, because the country has chosen a special policy relating to the restrictions on the mass flow of tourists and vacationers. Those who decide to vacation have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the exotic nature of the magical Kalahari Desert, experience the picturesque estuary of the Okavango River, and enjoy the beauty of local flora and fauna.
A visit to a village still inhabited by a unique tribe of Bushmen, who have been able to preserve their original way of life with all their ancient customs and cultural peculiarities, will provide an indescribable experience of emotion and pleasure to see.
The hills of Tsolido, which have long been mystical with the richest collection of rock art in the whole southern direction of the African continent, will not leave indifferent any tourist who managed to see the ancient beauty.
Botswana. The author of the photo is Robert Sand.
How to get to Botswana
So far, they have not opened a destination with direct flights from the CIS countries. Directly there is an opportunity to fly from European countries, using the services of British Airways. The most convenient and common option is to fly to Gaborone from Johannesburg, from where South African Airways flies.
Water treatment, Chobe National Park, Botswana. Photo by Andrew Sulitsky.
Weather in Botswana
Summer in the African country lasts from September to April, this time is the rainy season and the temperature ranges from +25 to +38 degrees Celsius.
From May to August comes winter and the dry season with temperatures ranging from about +16 to +20 degrees Celsius. Variations in temperature during the day are very large, in the south of the country sometimes even recorded frosts.
The most favorable time to vacation in this country is from mid-spring to October. During this time you can observe the natural migration of animals, which head closer to the waters of the Okavango estuary. The season from November to December is the breeding season for various species of animals, and during this period there is the best opportunity to admire the life of newborn cubs.
Zebra, Botswana. Photo by Loic LCRGG.
Botswana is a place completely suitable for your dream vacation! In this place you are guaranteed to feel the merging with the real nature and enjoy the enchanting beauty of Africa. You will be able to feel its true and pristine essence, and determine what was the world before the arrival of civilization and various technologies.
The country can boast not only sights in the form of national parks. For example, for your attention is quite popular hills Tsolido, which has four different in shape and height, is the richest collection of rock art, which is located in the southern direction of the continent of Africa. There are about 4,000 drawings in the collection that show the life of the people during the Stone Age.
The caves called Gchwihaba are an entire system of caves with walls of different colors, with many stalagmites and stalactites, reaching as high as 10 meters. Since the 1930s, many different groups of speleologists and tourists have traveled to this site in search of treasure, which legend has it that the cave was buried so that it would not fall to the European colonizers. There is a huge number of tunnels in all directions, among them there are also quite dangerous places, which can have hidden abysses and unexpected rock falls.
In every corner of Botswana you can see countless species of animals walking through the national park and also within a few meters of the various settlements.
A giraffe at a watering hole, Chobe National Park, Botswana. Photo by Andrei Sulitsky.
There are many interesting and exciting places in Africa with their own features and history. Oodi village is one of these places. The small village is located just 20 kilometers from the capital on the way to Francistown. Oodi is known throughout Africa for its weaving industry.
The villagers produce a huge number of different products made by their own hands. You can find a variety of products: and paintings to decorate the walls, tablecloths for the tables, many linens and many other products. Each of them decorated with a picture of animals or scenes from the real historical life of African tribes. There is also an opportunity not only to buy your favorite products, but also to see the process of making it.
Not far from the village of Thamaga is a center where they produce dishes for the kitchen, using for this the highest quality natural materials. This place is famous for its truly exceptional and extraordinarily beautiful things that even the most fastidious connoisseurs will be able to appreciate.
In various African towns, as well as on the way to the safari, there are various souvenir shops and stores in great numbers. Their assortment is really rich – handmade wooden items; figurines carved from soapstone; clothing designed for safari travel; various items made from banana peels; colorful and unique kengu and kiku robes worn by the Aborigines.
In addition, there is a large selection of semi-precious and precious stones. Making a purchase, you should bargain, thus will be able to buy the product you like at a good discount.
The national dish of this cuisine is the braai, which is grilled meat and maize mixed with water. Tomatoes and onion sauce are served with the dish. Also an interesting dish called “sesvaa,” which is prepared in the traditional method of beef meat.
Seswaa, Botswana. Photo by Imsoscared.
The cuisine in Botswana is not particularly refined in culinary terms, its main component are meat dishes, fish and poultry dishes. The women of Botswana prefer to drink coca-cola, and a local beer called St. Louis is a popular drink with men.
Russian citizens do not need a visa to travel to Botswana for up to 90 days. But you should get insurance, because it is not superfluous for visiting African countries.
Giraffe, Botswana. Photo by Jaroen.
The country is allowed to bring into the country duty-free alcohol 2 liters of wine or 1 liter of spirits, cigars 50 pieces or 250 cigarettes. It is forbidden to bring narcotic substances into the country.
With a special license obtained from the customs office, it is allowed to export animal skins. Weapons, uncut diamonds or ostrich eggs are subject to mandatory customs control. Any amount of foreign currency may be brought in or out with a declaration.
Three Elephants, Chobe River, Botswana. Photo by Steve Lamb.
Safety of vacationers
Botswana is a very safe place, unlike many other countries in Africa. Locals are known for their hospitality and friendliness towards tourists because they value the tourist contribution to the country’s economy. The crime rate in the country is considered incredibly low.
When arriving in Botswana, vacationers may check for a yellow fever vaccination certificate. It is recommended to get vaccinated 2 weeks before your planned trip to the country. In the country recorded cases of malaria, and therefore need to consult a doctor and take as preventive measures – all the necessary drugs.
When touring the national parks, it is important to adhere to safety rules:
- It is forbidden to feed wild animals during the safari;
- Do not put your hands in your pockets and show any food to the baboons;
- If you encounter elephants, you should always give way to them, and it is strictly forbidden to stand between elephants and their cubs;
- after walking through the grass, you should check for ticks on your body and clothes;
- When going on safari, get out of the car only in specially designated places;
- no noisy or provocative behavior is allowed on safari rides;
- Smoking is prohibited on safari trips.
The most favorable and suitable time to visit the country is the season beginning in April and ending in October. During this time, you can observe the miraculous phenomenon of the natural migration of animals toward the expanse of the Okavango Delta.
The Okavango River, Botswana. Photo by Fabian Quanz.
Navigating the country
Botswana is not yet spoiled by the effects of civilization, but not all its benefits can be found here. For example, there are few roads, and particularly remote corners can only be reached by air. There are trains and intercity buses, but they do not go all over the country. Although they are quite comfortable and affordable, the connection is established only between Gaborone, Lobaste and Francistown. Local flights, on the other hand, are not cheap.
There are some places you can’t even get to by plane. Along the Okavango River, for example, you can only travel by local mokoro boats, which resemble canoes in structure, or on horseback.
Mokoro boats, Okavango River, Botswana. Photo by Mick Byrne.
Rent a Car
It is not difficult to find a car to rent in Botswana, you only need an international driver’s license. Most rent cars for a day, insurance and gasoline are included in the price. In order not to have problems with the local police wear a seat belt, and respect the speed limit: 60 km / h in the city or other settlements and 120 km / h on the highway.
Although tourists from Russia not often use these services. Firstly, because of the left-hand traffic, and secondly, because for long distances is better and safer to take an SUV with a driver. Most of the Russians book organized safaris.
Leopard, Botswana. Photo by Kathi Clay.
There are two main options for accommodation in Botswana: “lodge” and “camp”. Lodge is a variant of the club-type hotel, where on the territory there is a building with rooms, usually small, 1 – 2 floors, and bungalows.
Most often offered three meals a day and water, in the bars you can get drinks for a fee. Tourists should take care in advance about the charging for gadgets and bring an adapter. In many rooms, outlets are designed for plugs with square prongs.
Campsites, as the name implies, are tent camps for about 12 to 15 tents. Although “tents” is not quite the right word here, their interior and size could argue with expensive hotel rooms.
What lodges and campsites have in common is that you can’t leave either the tent or the cabin at night alone. Otherwise you risk becoming prey to predators, many of whom prefer to hunt at night.
Impala, Botswana. Photo by Stephen Kosh.
Currency and payment
The currency in Botswana is pula (BWP), in pula one hundred Thebe. One pula is equal to 6.53 roubles or 0.083 dollars. Points of exchange are sufficient in all major cities. Also you can get the local currency at the airport, major hotels and banks. If you come for 2 – 3 nights, you may not need to exchange money: hotels accept dollars for payment.
5 pula banknote, Botswana. Photo by Benjamin Peterson.
If you find yourself in a small town with no bank, you can take advantage of mobile outlets that provide a range of banking services. Although few of them work with cash, most accept only cards and traveler’s checks. Such banks on wheels may come to a community weekly or once a month.
The tip culture here is a little different from ours: in most establishments it’s already included in the check, so you leave it if the service was above-average. On average, they add 5-6% of the bill. Cab drivers on safari usually get a tip of $5-$10 per day. Hotel employees will also be glad if you give them a dollar or two for cleaning your room.
Tips for Tourists
First of all, you need to be mindful of your safety. Many people do not fully understand that they are in contact with wildlife. Things that are common to us can turn into deadly danger. Never leave the hotel alone in the evening, much less at night. On safari do not leave the car without the permission of the escort, and under no circumstances do not feed the animals, it’s better not to get any extra food at all.
Try to always have a supply of wet wipes, disinfectants and water with you. Also be careful with the food, because the local food can not be absorbed by the body. Poisonings are very common in exotic countries, and for your own peace of mind it is best to stock up on the usual medicines at home.
Take care not only of yourself but also of the nature: don’t litter, don’t pour drinks on the ground, don’t make noise and try to leave behind the same cleanliness as before you came.
Marabu, Botswana. Photo by Andrey Sulitsky.